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The Manchurian Candidate | 2004 | R | - 4.8.5

Remake of the John Frankenheimer 1962 Cold War classic, updated to contemporary times and paranoia: Denzel Washington stars as an army major who is tormented by dreams and memories of a firefight he survived in Kuwait in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. Ten years have passed and he eventually remembers that his platoon was kidnapped by the enemy, and brainwashed. When he realizes that one of his fellow soldiers (Liev Schreiber) is ascending the political ladder, he tries to warn him and make him realize that he's a political pawn. Meryl Streep costars as a powerful political mother and wife with ulterior motives. Also with Kimberly Elise, Jon Voight and Jeffrey Wright. Directed by Jonathan Demme. [2:10]

SEX/NUDITY 4 - A man sits bare-chested, his mother caresses his bare chest, touches his neck, kisses him tenderly on the mouth and moves closer suggesting another kiss (there are incestuous undertones, but nothing happens). A man and a woman kiss (they're a married couple). A man admits his romantic feelings for a woman and she rebuffs him. A man showers and we see his bare back. A woman wears a low-cut sweater that reveals cleavage and a short skirt that reveals bare thighs, a woman wears a low-cut dress that reveals cleavage, and a woman wears a tight tank top that reveals cleavage.


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VIOLENCE/GORE 8 - A man is suffocated: a man puts a plastic bag over his head, he struggles and writhes, we focus on his face, and then he is still. Another man is suffocated: A man grabs his throat, he struggles to free himself, he spits and vomits and then he's still. A man in a kayak is flipped over and held under water until he dies (we see the man flailing and yelling underwater and then he is still). A woman is held under water until she drowns (we see her face just under the surface of the water and we see her struggle). A man is shot in the back and the bullet passes through him and into another person, they both fall to the floor dead and have large bloodstains on their clothes. A man is shot in the head (we see the bloody hole in his forehead, blood trickles down and the man falls onto the floor). A man puts a gun to his head and is shot in the shoulder before being able to shoot himself. A man cuts himself on the back with a knife, we see blood and a flap of skin and he pulls a metallic device out from under the skin. A man grabs a man, shoves him on a table, pulls his shirt open, bites him on the back, and we see blood on the man's back and in the other man's mouth. A man is placed on a doctor's table, his head is clamped into a metal frame, a doctor drills into his skull (we see the man flinching) and implants something in his brain (we see an image of his brain on a screen). A man with electrodes on his head is shocked (he jolts and twists due to the electrical current). A man grabs a woman by the throat, she pulls a gun on him and threatens to shoot. We see photographs of a dead man after having drowned (he has a gash on his face and is tinged blue/gray). A man imagines that a woman has a bullet hole in her forehead and blood runs from it. We see a roomful of men with bloody bandages, wounds and I.V.s. We see men with bandages on their heads and tubes attached to machinery (spots of blood are on the bandages). A military vehicle is ambushed, rocket-propelled grenades are shot at the men in the vehicle (we see men inside the vehicle panicking and sparks flying), gunshots are fired and we see people being hit; one man outside the vehicle is hit hard in the face and falls unconscious (we see flashbacks to this scene many times in varying detail) and we hear that two men died and one disappeared. A man punches a man in the face (we see his bloody nose and face). A man appears agitated and very frightened. A man pounds on a table and yells at a man. We see monkeys in cages with metal skull clamps on their heads. We see fires burning in Kuwaiti oil fields. We see women with tattooed faces and they appear to be carrying brains in their hands (during a dream). We see drawings of people with tattooed faces, people being shot (their brains splatter), people screaming, and one drawing depicts a man with snakes coming out of his head, etc.


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LANGUAGE 5 - 1 F-word, 1 obscene hand gesture, 5 scatological terms, 5 anatomical terms, 3 mild obscenities, 2 religious profanities, 6 religious exclamations.


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SUBSTANCE USE - People are shown smoking and drinking alcohol.


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DISCUSSION TOPICS - Power, paranoia, politics, brain washing and behavior modification, memories, democracy, dreams, heroism, domineering parents, corporate greed, betrayal, post traumatic stress disorder, Gulf War Syndrome, incest, fear, military contracts, defending one's country, honor.

MESSAGE - Cash is king. The world is a topsy-turvy place, and political realities are rarely as they appear.

CAVEATS

Be aware that while we do our best to avoid spoilers it is impossible to disguise all details and some may reveal crucial plot elements.

We've gone through several editorial changes since we started covering films in 1992 and older reviews are not as complete & accurate as recent ones; we plan to revisit and correct older reviews as resources and time permits.

Our ratings and reviews are based on the theatrically-released versions of films; on video there are often Unrated, Special, Director's Cut or Extended versions, (usually accurately labelled but sometimes mislabeled) released that contain additional content, which we did not review.


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